Riverforce - update

Monday, 12 March, 2012

Keith HitchmanKeith Hitchman is Force Chaplain with Merseyside Police. He explains how his work has evolved in the city over the past two years.

One of my remits when I arrived was to assist and nurture the leadership of Riverforce, a Christian support network for Merseyside Police. The Chief Constable, Jon Murphy, had approached Peter Owens, a former Chief Inspector and now part of the Merseyside Police Occupational Health Trust, and asked him to help form a multi-faith and ecumenical chaplaincy service for Riverforce. Peter then approached me and over a period of a year we put in the necessary structures for this to happen. In July 2011 the Merseyside Police Chaplaincy Service was formed to provide practical and spiritual support to Merseyside Police staff regardless of their personal faith or belief.

I am the force chaplain and the service comprises a team of 11 volunteer Chaplains, including a Muslim chaplain and a Jewish chaplain, covering each of the force's six Basic Command Units/Policing Areas.

RiverforceChristians are meeting regularly in small groups within the force but these meetings tend to be organic rather than structured in the current economic climate due to the rapid deployment of officers and civilian employees. There are four larger gatherings a year, some of which are celebrations. Our next meeting will be a panel discussion on restorative justice in Easter week. These events have anything up to 100 people coming along, including police officers, civilian staff, street pastors, probation officers and members of Prison Fellowship too. So we are talking in terms of the wider police family.

The Chaplaincy is involved in regular pastoral care and we have also started a listening and coaching service working with other support networks in the force.

You can read more about Keith's work in the city centre, including Liverpool City Centre Street Pastors, in the River in the City update.

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